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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Archive for March, 2007

Hunt and Gather

Posted by Rick | March 30th, 2007 | Filed under Personal Reflection, Sustainability

berries.jpgWe’ve all done it. Strolling down the street on a sunny day, who hasn’t been tempted by a cherry tree or berry bush dangling its ripe offerings over the sidewalk? To look down at the carnage of fallen fruit on the ground, it seems almost rude not to pluck a few before continuing down the road. So we do, and the taste of that forbidden (and organic) apple or pear seems a little sweeter with the knowledge that it was sort of snaked and surely saved from the gutter or garbage can.

Urban Edibles takes this form of city foraging to the next level by providing a community-generated database, complete with maps of “wildâ€? food sources around the Portland metro area. The site encourages visitors to contribute the coordinates their favorite foliage, promising to have database kinks and “ethical dilemmasâ€? worked out by spring. And here we are. Anybody have ethical issues with this form of farming truly local foods?

Thanks to Thought Kitchen commenter Gabriel Amadeus for the tip! 

D.I.Y. Foreign Aid

Posted by admin | March 28th, 2007 | Filed under Compassionate Capitalism, Partnerships, Positive Change

It is fitting that Nicholas Kristof, probably one of the most influential and spot-on on-line journalists working today, would stumble across our Partner for Change, Kiva.org.

His March 27 column and video recounts a visit he made recently with two entrepreneurs in Afghanistan”a baker and a t.v. repairman”that he loaned money to using his laptop and Kiva.org, a Web site that provides information in MySpace-like profiles about entrepreneurs in poor countries ” their photos, loan proposals and credit history ” and allows people to make direct loans to them for as little as $25. When loans are repaid, the lender can keep her original investment or relend it to others.

Kiva.jpgAs we researched and got to know Kiva last fall, we began to see many parallels with Nau. It was founded a little more than two years ago by entrepreneurs seeking social change and wanting to do business in a different way. Matt and Jessica Flannery came away from time in Africa seeing that even small amounts of working capital could transform lives. Their challenge: how to make that opportunity available and easy for people seeking to make a difference? Working with a keen group of colleagues recruited from Silicon Valley successes PayPal and TiVo, Kiva.org was born. Today anyone with an internet connection and credit card or PayPal account can lend money to those with no or little access to credit, allowing the lender to start or grow an existing business.

Kristof, who also credits another Partner for Change, Mercy Corps, which itself is also a major player in the microfinance world, reminds us that microfinance is an important tool against poverty. Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his pioneering work with microfinance in Bangladesh. Read More »

A Very Good Call

Posted by Josie | March 26th, 2007 | Filed under Personal Reflection, Positive Change, Who We Are

Josie blog picture.JPG“Thanks for calling Nau, this is Josie” was how I started the conversation with a customer late one Friday afternoon, as usual. But after less than a minute of conversation, the Nau-related topic that prompted her call ended, and the real conversation with Heather began.

She has three children, two of which were adopted from Ethiopia. She described the strong Ethiopian community that exists in the city where she lives, the steps she’s taken to teach her kids the National Ethiopian language, and about the process of adopting her children. Correcting my naive perception of adopting children from Africa, she said the government is extremely supportive of the adoption process, because Ethiopia currently has thousands of children living in orphanages. Through her experience using Children’s Home Society and Family Services (childrenshomeadopt.org) the paperwork was moved quickly through the adoption process and it took only about five months to bring home each of her children.

Heather and her husband recently went to Ethiopia to meet her sons’ birth family. This affectionate, tearful group consisting of over 40 extended family members welcomed them with hugs and kisses. Being in a place where the average household lives on the equivalent of $100 per year, she said, changed her life. Dedicated to understanding what this is like, she tried to live on the same budget and didn’t even make it one week. We discussed what would happen if every person in America, or the world for that matter, had the opportunity to visit villages in Africa to see first hand how families survive with so little.

When I hung up the phone, I was left with an appreciation for the connection I made with a stranger that I could not have predicted when I woke up that morning. When I wake up tomorrow, I hope I’m listening if I cross paths with another stranger who has something to tell me.

Wend Magazine

Posted by Alex | March 23rd, 2007 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Positive Change

Wend_cover.jpgI love the bones of a good magazine. A heavy cover, saturated inks, thick pages that splash as they turn. Having worked for small magazines, I’ve come to appreciate the simple pleasure of holding a well-built book, filled with content worthy of the recycled paper it’s printed on.

Perhaps that’s why I’m so psyched on the outdoor magazine Wend. In part, it’s because I feel a certain kinship for the magazine: we’ve got a lot in common. Like us, they’re based in Portland; like us, they’re a start-up. But beyond these superficial commonalities, they’ve also tapped into a vein of inspiration that goes deeper than simply covering the latest outdoor superheroes and gear trends:

[Wend] exists to provide a forum in which the convergence of sport, style and creativity blend in a seamless fashion. Wend is an amalgamation of visual, mental and physical inspiration, built to emanate the style and identity of the ever-growing population of the urban-minded adventurer.

We’ll be featuring Wend in our stores, the first of which opens next week in Boulder, CO. In the meantime, check them out online: wendmagazine.com.

The Thought Kitchen Video Roundup, Vol. 1

Posted by Rick | March 21st, 2007 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Sustainability, Who We Are

Video_Roundup_1.gifOver the past year, as the Nau team has grown, email exchanges have evolved from simple work-related threads to correspondence that is, how shall we say, more rich. And this swapping of viral videos isn’t necessarily frowned upon”especially if the movies speak to who we are: artists, activists, athletes. (The great thing is that those categories can arguably cover everything youtube has to offer.)

Having accumulated enough interesting videos to fill a workday, we thought we should just pick our five favorites and share them in The Kitchen.

Top 5 of the Month:

1. Rinpaeshidan’s one week painting

2. Good Magazine’s High Line video

3. Ali G’s prophetic Iran Vs. Iraq segment

4. The Corporation Trailer (in case you missed it or need to revisit)

5. Don’t call us surf rats!

How to Duck Dive

Posted by Rick | March 19th, 2007 | Filed under Outdoor Sport

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The secret to surfing Oregon beach breaks in the winter is being able to dive deep under broken waves while paddling out. If your board isn’t too floaty, you can actually come out the back of whitewater without being pushed toward the shore. Here are five simple things to remember:

1. Paddle hard, directly at the monster, even if it seems like you’ll get creamed.
2. When the wave is about ten yards away, push the nose of your board as deep as it will go.
3. When your nose is down deep, use your knee or toe to sink the tail, leveling the board under water.
4. At this point, the broken wave will almost have reached you. Pull your body down to the surfboard, so you’re under water with it.
5. As you feel the wave pass above, angle the nose upward slightly, so you come out of the back of the wave nose-first.

Like any challenge, the key to success is facing it head-on, without fear. Charge it with confidence, and you’ll be surprised at the trouble you can avoid. And don’t forget to keep your eyes open down there. It’s an amazing view.

Pretty Darn Swell

Posted by admin | March 16th, 2007 | Filed under Compassionate Capitalism, Positive Change

Picture 11.png

A site founded by people who believe that art can save the world. A place where artists can submit their work to be sold as prints or notecards for $20 each and where $5 from every sale goes to a charitable organization chosen by the artist. That’s Pretty Darn Swell.

Preparing for the FBI: 568 DAH

Posted by Eugénie | March 14th, 2007 | Filed under Personal Reflection, Positive Change, Who We Are

568_dah_1.jpgThe acoustics in the hallways of the courthouse downtown are nearly perfect. I know this because I recently stood in line there for two hours, waiting, with dozens like me, to pay a traffic fine.

There we were, comrades for a short while; a little annoyed at the length of the line, tired of standing, and sometimes amused, like when the guy up front walked off belting the lyrics to the Police song “Roxanne.â€? When the music died, there we were still, humbled, reflecting on how we got to standing there in the first place.

Personally, I was on the third strike of a painful round with the karma ghost.

Strike One: nabbed by the automatic red-light-running camera at the intersection of Broadway and MLK. Yup, that’s my face in that picture, and yup, that’s my car”240 bucks. Sha-zam.

Strike Two: I swear I didn’t know I was skiing out of bounds! But I was, and yes, that’s my ski pass, and yeah, I guess you can have it back.

And now, Strike Three: Did you know that failure to stop completely at a stop sign before making a right turn while commuting to work ON YOUR BICYCLE also costs $240?

And this is why I’m downtown, listening to “Roxanne.â€? While in line, I’m reminded of Christmas Eve two years ago, when I got pulled over for speeding on Teton Pass. I was just leaving my house in Idaho. The tags on my Colorado plates were expired, the address on my Oregon driver’s license was for an old house in Portland, and on this snowy morning I was on my way to work”in Wyoming. I was, quite literally, all over the map.

Read More »

Street Art: Illicit Inspiration

Posted by Rick | March 12th, 2007 | Filed under Design, Personal Reflection, Who We Are

20070302_blog_graffiti_1.jpgLocated in downtown Portland, in the shadow of a freeway overpass, our office has easy access to the little things that make urban living great. Cafes, bars, boutiques and galleries all share our block and provide cultural stimulation when we need it. But one of our favorite sources of visual inspiration can be found outside these establishments, literally gracing their brick walls. A certain kind of graffiti”not the egotistical gang-tag variety”has been catching our eyes and proving that the city breathes creative when the sun goes down.

One of our favorite examples of this is a mysterious face that we’ve spotted around the Pearl District and North Portland. In stark contrast to a tagger’s goal of “claiming” neighborhoods by literally signing their names, this work is completely anonymous. It’s a gestural continuous-line drawing that is both simple and expressive”a playful creative outburst in an environment of rules and right angles.

Which brings us to the controversy: Is street art an eyesore, or does it enhance the urban landscape? Does an unsanctioned artistic act on private property enlighten or illegally force a perspective on the public? Can vandalism be beautiful? Can graffiti be activism? Where do you draw the line?

The answers may not be found explicitly on Wooster Collective’s website, but their exploration of such forms of street art as “culture jamming,” “hacking,” “geek graffiti,” “billboard liberations” and “wheatpastes” gives you a lot to think about.

Dropping Knowledge Update

Posted by admin | March 9th, 2007 | Filed under Positive Change

anz-2006-06-24.jpgI just received an email from our friends at Dropping Knowledge with the following update:

“Very quickly, here at DK, we have confirmed a Table of Free Voices event in Philadelphia for this October in cooperation with the Tavis Smiley Group. This is hopefully one in a series of tables leading up to the ’08 elections. The event is to be broadcast live in parts on CNN, C-SPAN, and the BBC. Here is a release.”